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"We're Exhausted": Dozens of vacancies in Pima Co. Health Dept.

Pima County Health Dept. Vacancies
Posted at 7:24 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-17 22:58:20-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Credible sources tell KGUN9 that the Health Director requested about 50 new positions to help speed up COVID response.

Data reveals a dramatic jump in Program Specialists vacancies this month.

The sources say staff has been overtaxed for at least a few months.

"I think it's just gone on too long," said one of three highly credible Health Department sources, who wants to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation.

"We're now 11 months into this response and we're just exhausted really exhausted and frustrated and disappointed.with the lack of support and leadership from the county,"

We're getting a glimpse into the struggles within the Pima County Health Department through sources and data.

Records reveal a 30 percent vacancy rate this month up from about 20 percent in December.

But the jump isn't because workers are suddenly leaving the department in droves.

The insiders tell us that the Health Director requested about 50 new temporary positions to help speed up COVID response,

It appears to be reflected in the number of Program Specialist vacancies. the data shows it jumped from 5 to 55.

The sources tell KGUN9 the county waited too long to get more help and now the staff is overtaxed.

"To not hire positions during this entire response has left us exhausted, has left us feeling unsupported. Not sure where to turn," said the source.

I spoke to Supervisor Matt Heinz about the Health Department vacancies.

Dr. Heinz said, "In terms of the specific numbers, I had not heard those specific numbers."

Hearing them now has him concerned.

"I don't want to be burning out our public health workers and our epidemiologist and contract tracers and those who are helping us to administer the vaccine to all of these 1.1 million people in Pima County. So yes, obviously any sustained overtaxing or any of our departments, especially the Health Department in a sustained way right now, is something that concerns me and I will be looking into this myself so I can address this," said Dr. Heinz.

We reached out to Health director Dr. Theresa Cullen about the vacancies and the impact on the department.

We have yet to get a response.